Facing a severely short-handed opponent, Portland was presented with a prime opportunity to flex its muscle and put Golden State on the receiving end of the punishment they have doled out so mercilessly over the recent years. But if fans were hoping for the Blazers to go John Wick on the Warriors and exact revenge for the playoff sweep that ended its 2018-19 season, they will have to wait for the sequel, as Portland couldn’t keep pace with the younger squad and fell 127-118 on the road.
Of the 11 Golden State players who took part in the 119-117 overtime win that ousted Portland from the Western Conference Finals just months ago, none were in uniform Monday night. Down both Splash Bros. and most of its other key contributors, the Warriors were forced to deploy a Motley Crew of guys you might have had to Google first to explain to your parents.
But sacrificial lambs they were not. With practically nothing to lose, the Warriors played with an almost Summer League-like coolness, and success in the early goings had its confidence surging all night. Eric Paschall - ever heard of him? He toasted the Blazers for 17 of his 36 points in the first quarter on his way to a career night. How about Jordan Poole? No, not the MadTV guy; he’s a rookie and he’s talking trash to Damian Lillard leaving the floor at halftime. Let’s not even get into Ky Bowman getting the better of Hassan Whiteside and drawing a silly technical late in the fourth. These are all real people, I assure you.
Somehow, Portland walked into the building with just about every advantage at it disposal and still got punked.
There’ll be a lot of sharing the blame after this one, but nobody sticks out as sorely as CJ McCollum, who was invisible for pretty much the entire second half and finished with just 14 points and 6 assists. Lillard continued his MVP-level play in vain with 39 points and 4 assists and Whiteside was mostly positive in his return with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Portland will head to L.A. to take on the Clippers Thursday night in a nationally televised game on TNT.